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Category: Sundance Film Festival

Sony Classics and Magnolia announce two more Sundance deals

The Sundance Film Festival’s sale scoreboard can record two more deals. Magnolia Pictures has acquired North American rights to Alex Gibney and Alison Ellwood’s documentary “Magic Trip,” while Sony Pictures Classics has picked up North American, Australian and New Zealand rights to actress-director Vera Farmiga’s “Higher Ground.”

More than three dozen Sundance movies have been sold after their screenings in Park City, Utah, and Monday’s deals are not the first for Magnolia or Sony Classics. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.

Magnolia previously announced its deals for Mark Pellington’s “I Melt With You” and Jason Eisener’s “Hobo With a Shotgun.” Sony Classics bought John Michael McDonagh’s “The Guard,” Jeff Nichols’ “Take Shelter” and Morgan Spurlock’s “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.”

“Magic Trip” is a look at author Ken Kesey and his Merry Prankster’s American road trip. “Higher Ground,” adapted from the memoir “This Dark World: A Memoir of Salvation Found and Lost,” centers on a woman (played by Farmiga) struggling to find meaning while growing up in an evangelical church.

— John Horn

Photo: Norbert Leo Butz and Vera Farmiga in "Higher Ground." Credit: Molly Hawkey.

SAG Awards: John Hawkes isn't 'comfortable' talking about himself [Video]

John Hawkes just got back from the Sundance Film Festival -- an event where a year ago, a small independent film called "Winter's Bone" was just starting to get some buzz. On Sunday, Hawkes was walking the red carpet to talk about his best supporting actor nod for his part in that film, and he said he felt much more at home in snowy Park City, Utah.

"It's an unusual part of the work," said the actor. "I think I'm a lot more comfortable playing parts than talking about myself or parts. But you know something, it's such a gratifying thing to be thought of and certainly, if it draws more people to this movie, 'Winter's Bone,' then I couldn't be happier."

That's the main reason he's looking forward to the Oscars, too.

"Yeah, it's pretty wild," he said of "Winter's Bone" being included in the best picture category at the Academy Awards. "Again, I just hope that more people see the film. I'm very proud to be part of it."

--Amy Kaufman

Sundance 2011: Romantic drama, physician-assisted suicide doc win top U.S. jury prizes

The jury at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival has given its grand jury U.S. dramatic prize to Drake Doremus' "Like Crazy," a story of a long-distance romance starring Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones.

The prize, the festival's highest honor, is the second for the film this evening; it previously won a special jury prize for Jones.

The jury also handed the grand jury U.S. documentary prize to Peter D. Richardson's "How to Die in Oregon," a story of the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide.

In accepting the dramatic prize, Doremus said, "This movie is about love, and love never dying and being with you for the rest of your life." Then he thanked his agent. "Oh, and Paramount Pictures -- thanks for buying the movie." (The studio  acquired rights to the film a week ago and will release it later this year.)

Matt Groening presented the grand jury documentary prize and thanked the festival for inviting him,  despite a "Simpsons" episode mocking the festival for its abundance of "Parker Posey" and "Parka poseurs."

Several minutes before, the jury handed the U.S. dramatic directing prize to Sean Durkin's cult drama "Martha Marcy May Marlene" and the U.S. documentary directing prize to Jon Foy's "Ressurrect Dead," about a series of mysterious tiles laid out in cities across the world in the 1980s.

The Ellen Barkin wedding-day comedy "Another Happy Day," won the Waldo Salt screenplay award. Writer-director Sam Levinson, in winning the prize, gave a choked-up speech that included the line, "When I introduced my film I cried, so I don't know what the ... is going to happen now." He then proceeded to cry.

--Steven Zeitchik and Mark Olsen in Park City, Utah

Photo: Drake Doremus reacts after his film "Like Crazy" wins at Sundance.  Credit: George Frey / EPA

Sundance 2011: U.S. audience loves horse whisperers and Iranian lesbians

The audience at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival has given its top U.S. dramatic prize to Maryam Keshavarz's "Circumstance," a Farsi-language look at a pair of teenage lesbians in contemporary Iran, and its top U.S. documentary prize to Cindy Meehl's "Buck," a look at a real-life horse whisperer.

The awards kicked off a host of U.S. jury prizes. The jury handed a special prize to the filmmakers behind Constance Marks' puppet documentary "Being Elmo" for creating a "documentary for all ages." It also gave special prizes in the dramatic category to producers Mike Cahill and Brit Marling for their sci-fi drama "Another Earth" and a second special prize in the dramatic category to British newcomer Felicity Jones for her turn as a young lover in Drake Doremus' romantic drama "Like Crazy."

America Ferrera, in presenting the latter award, declared this the "year of the actress."

-- Steven Zeitchik and Mark Olsen

Photo: From left, actors Reza Sixo Safai, Sarah Kazemy and Nikohl Boosheri and director Maryam Keshavarz from the film "Circumstance" pose for a portrait at the Sundance Film Festival. Credit: Associated Press

Sundance 2011: Sex comedy, Formula 1 doc and Rwandan drama win top world honors

The world dramatic jury gave its top prize to Anne Sewitsky's "Happy, Happy," a combination sex comedy/drama in Danish and Norwegian. (Sewitsky took the stage and said she was indeed "happy happy").

The audience, meanwhile, anointed Asif Kapadia's Formula 1 documentary "Senna" its favorite among the world documentaries and Alrick Brown's "Kinyarwanda," a connection of interlinked stories about Rwanda, its top world dramatic film.

Just moments before, the world cinema jury handed its top directing prize to Irish actor Paddy Considine for his debut drama "Tyrannosaur," which tells of an unlikely relationship between an older man and a younger woman. It also gave a special jury prize to Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman, the film's two leads.

Erica Dunton's teenage-girl dramatic thriller "to.get.her" won the best of the festival's "Next" program.

"I thought you got a heads-up if you were going to win, so I was in the back waiting for the bar to open," she said.

-- Steven Zeitchik and Mark Olsen

Sundance 2011: Afghanistan film takes top world doc prize

The first major prize at the Sundance Film Festival has been handed out, with Danfung Dennis landing the grand jury prize for world cinema/documentary for his war documentary "Hell and Back Again." Dennis' film tells of a U.S. staff sergeant who is wounded in Afghanistan and must readjust to life in North Carolina.

It's Dennis' second prize of the night; a few minutes before he won a world cinema cinematography award/documentary.

Also, several minutes before, the jury gave a special prize to Leonard Retel Helmrich's Jakarate expose "Position Among the Stars" and a directing award to James Marsh for his scientific-exploration "Project Nim." Marsh won the Oscar documentary award two years ago for his Philippe Petite film "Man on Wire."

The ceremony began when actor Tim Blake Nelson, dressed as a snowflake, kicked off the evening by suggesting to filmmakers 10 ways they can get their film into Sundance. Among the suggestions: "Throw in a bunch of sex scenes -- but only between family members."

--Steven Zeitchik

Sundance Institute names Alfred P. Sloan prize winner

Mike Cahill "Another Earth," directed by Mike Cahill and written by Cahill and Brit Marling, is the recipient of the 2011 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

The Sundance Institute announced the news Friday afternoon.

The winners will receive a $20,000 cash award. The prize is presented to an outstanding feature film that has a theme focusing on science and technology or has a scientist, engineer or mathematician as a major character.

"Another Earth" is a sci-fi romance starring William Mapother and Brit Marling.

For more information, go to

 -- Susan King

Photo: William Mapother, left, and Mike Cahill, who directed and co-wrote "Another Earth." Credit: Sundance Film Festival

Sundance 2011: Roadside embraces 'The Future'

Indie darling Miranda July has seen her bit of surrealism, "The Future," sold to Roadside Attractions.

It's the company's third acquisition of the Sundance Film Festival, after co-acquisitions for Kevin Spacey's Wall Street drama "Margin Call" (with Lionsgate) and James Marsh's science-tinged doc "Project Nim" (with HBO).

The company, which last year bought "Winter's Bone" in Park City, Utah, plans to release the movie later in 2011. United Talent Agency represented the filmmakers in the sale.

July's film, her first since her breakout "Me and You and Everyone We Know" six years ago, alternates between the perspectives of an ownerless cat and the 30-something couple prepared to adopt her. July stars opposite Hamish Linklater; the film also dabbles in science-fiction and time-bending genres.

Also on Friday, Focus Features acquired rights to "Pariah," Dee Rees' debut that opened the festival.

--Steven Zeitchik in Park City, Utah

Photo: Miranda July and Hamish Linklater in 'The Future.'  Credit: Sundance Film Festival

Sundance 2011: IFC, Sony Pictures Worldwide find 'Salvation'

Another day, another major deal at the Sundance Film Festival.

IFC and Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquistions Group have teamed up to acquire North American rights to "Salvation Boulevard," George Ratliff's comedic story about the magnetic pastor of a megachurch pastor (Pierce Brosnan) who gets himself into a host of trouble. Greg Kinnear co-stars as a congregant who gets caught up in the shenanigans.

It's the first buy of the festival for the Sony division and the third for IFC. The company previously picked up another spiritually themed film, Patrick Wilson-starrer "The Ledge," about a standoff between an atheist and a fundamentalist, as well as Ewan McGregor's science fiction-romance "Perfect Sense."

Ratliff previously came to the festival with the literary thriller "Joshua," which sold for nearly $4 million at Sundance in 2007 but underperformed at the box office.

The news follows a pair of other theatrical acqusitions: Lionsgate acquired Lee Tamahori's Uday Hussein drama "The Devil's Double" and Roadside Attractions picked up theatrical rights to James Marsh's science-experiment doc "Project Nim," after HBO previously acquired television rights.

--Steven Zeitchik

Photo: A still from 'Salvation Boulevard.' Credit: Sundance Film Festival

Sundance 2011: Check out the famous, frozen faces

Most of the time we show you red carpet shots of beautiful people in generally warm locales (or at least inside a tent or enjoying the benefits of a heat lamp). Not so with the stripped down, way-indie, way, way, way cold vibe in Park City, Utah. These arrivals lines are so cold, the stars bring their coats.

So check out the oh-so-cold faces of Tobey Maguire, Kerry Washington, Ed Helms, Kevin Smith and even Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher as they and the rest of the famous faces of Sundance work their wiles through the premieres and parties of Park City.


-- Patrick Kevin Day

Photo: Tobey Maguire and Kerry Washington. Credit: Michael Buckner / Getty Images 


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